MAKING A Pounds 32M DIFFERENCE; Finance Wales Unlocks Wider Range of Business Funding through Partnership with Private Sector Investment Sources

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Byline: Sion Barry

FINANCE Wales invested in 175 businesses in the last financial year, resulting in a pounds 31.8m injection into the economy.

The commercial lending subsidiary of the Welsh Development Agency, to the year ending in March, directly invested pounds 8m, allowing recipient companies to leverage a further pounds 24m from other financial institutions.

The direct investment and leverage figure represents a 16% increase on the previous year.

Although the number of equity investments it concluded was fewer than 30, against the current backdrop of a cautious venture capital market it still represents a positive return. And as part of a more proactive strategy, Finance Wales, which has its headquarters in Cardiff and regional offices around the country, has identified a number of high-growth potential companies it is looking to invest in.

With its other assistance programmes, including mentoring advice for business managers, Finance Wales helped create 1,669 jobs and to safeguard a further 1,772.

Investments during the year ranged from a pounds 150,000 investment to help the launch of ETL Solutions, a software specialist based at Blaenau Ffestiniog to a pounds 50,000 loan to a community venture which provides training and education courses in the former mining village of Tairgwaith, near Ammanford.

Larger investments also included a pounds 175,000 deal to assist the creation of Medipure, a new biotechnology company at Denbigh and a pounds 100,000 investment to help fund a man-agement buy-out at Risca-based SZ Gears, South Wales's leading gear cutting company.

Economic Development and Transport Minister Andrew Davies said, ``Finance Wales is one of the flagships of the Objective One programme in Wales, and is a textbook example of how the private and public sectors can work together to have a significant impact on the economy.

`` The investments made by Finance Wales are helping small and medium-sized companies solve problems, grow and create the more prosperous Wales we all want to see. …